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Microbiology. 2008 Oct;154(Pt 10):2897-903. doi: 10.1099/mic.0.2008/021220-0.

The chronicles of Porphyromonas gingivalis: the microbium, the human oral epithelium and their interplay.

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  • 1Department of Periodontology, College of Dentistry and Emerging Pathogens Institute, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32610, USA.


The microbiota of the human oral mucosa consists of a myriad of bacterial species that normally exist in commensal harmony with the host. Porphyromonas gingivalis, an aetiological agent in severe forms of periodontitis (a chronic inflammatory disease), is a prominent component of the oral microbiome and a successful colonizer of the oral epithelium. This Gram-negative anaerobe can also exist within the host epithelium without the existence of overt disease. Gingival epithelial cells, the outer lining of the gingival mucosa, which function as an important part of the innate immune system, are among the first host cells colonized by P. gingivalis. This review describes recent studies implicating the co-existence and intracellular adaptation of the organism in these target host cells. Specifically, recent findings on the putative mechanisms of persistence, intercellular dissemination and opportunism are highlighted. These new findings may also represent an original and valuable model for mechanistic characterization of other successful host-adapted, self-limiting, persistent intracellular bacteria in human epithelial tissues.

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